It's been quite the week at ProPublica, dear readers, where we published FOUR major stories. So we're kicking of today's MuckReads with a quick look at our latest investigations.
"The Red Cross won't disclose details of how it has spent the hundreds of millions of dollars donated for Haiti. But our reporting shows that less money reached those in need than the Red Cross has said. Lacking the expertise to mount its own projects, the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project's budget."
Athletes Accuse Famed Coach Alberto Salazar of Breaking Drug Rules (ProPublica, BBC)
"Their allegations against Salazar range from experimenting with well-known doping aids, such as testosterone, to giving athletes prescription medications they either didn't need or weren't prescribed in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage from their side effects. Some runners say they joked that being fast was only one prerequisite for joining the team—you also had to have prescriptions for thyroid hormone or asthma medication ... Salazar declined to be interviewed [by the BBC]. But in a statement he told the BBC the legal nutritional supplement Testoboost had been incorrectly recorded in the document as 'testosterone medication'."
New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos Expanding Spying (ProPublica, New York Times)
"Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of Americans' international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents. While the Senate passed legislation this week limiting some of the NSA's authority, it involved provisions in the U.S.A. Patriot Act and did not apply to the warrantless wiretapping program."
"Few people have played a greater role in determining how [Lake Mead's] coveted and contested water supply has been used than Mulroy. Much of it has gone to nourish the Southwest's booming cities, and for 26 years, Mulroy was the chief arbiter of water for the fastest-growing city of them all, Las Vegas. ... But an examination of Mulroy's reign shows that, despite her conservation bona fides, she always had one paramount mission: to find more water for Las Vegas and use it to help the city keep expanding."
Inside the Russian Agency that Industrialized the Art of Trolling (New York Times Magazine)
"The battle was conducted on multiple fronts. Laws were passed requiring bloggers to register with the state. A blacklist allowed the government to censor websites without a court order. Internet platforms like Yandex were subjected to political pressure, while others, like VKontakte, were brought under the control of Kremlin allies. Putin gave ideological cover to the crackdown by calling the entire Internet a 'C.I.A. project,' one that Russia needed to be protected from. Restrictions online were paired with a new wave of digital propaganda. The government consulted with the same public relations firms that worked with major corporate brands on social-media strategy."
FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over U.S. cities (Associated Press)
"The FBI says the planes are not equipped or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The surveillance equipment is used for ongoing investigations, the FBI says, generally without a judge's approval. The FBI confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services."
River of Death (Fusion)
"Fusion Investigates has identified at least 26 U.S.-based companies operating in the area. At least 12 of them have discharged toxic waste into the river or its tributaries, according to publicly available information, Fusion Investigates has found. According to the government report, five of those U.S.-based companies have discharged chemical waste in excess of the law. The same practices in the United States have led to fines in the past. In Mexico, though, enforcement of environmental regulation is lax at best."